Monday, January 29, 2007

Birth machines

From the Associated Press:

Japan's health minister described women as "birth-giving machines" in a speech on the country's falling birthrate, drawing criticism despite an immediate apology.

Japan's health minister described women as "birth-giving machines" in a speech on the country's falling birthrate, drawing criticism despite an immediate apology.
"The number of women between the ages of 15 and 50 is fixed. The number of birth-giving machines [and] devices is fixed, so all we can ask is that they do their best per head," said Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa, as quoted in the Asahi and Mainichi newspapers. Yanagisawa reportedly apologized even as he made the remarks Saturday and later told the Kyodo News agency the language he used was "too uncivil."

But Democratic Party leader Yukio Hatoyama was unmoved by Yanagisawa's expression of regret. "It was extremely rude to women," Hatoyama said Sunday.

Japan's population of 127 million contracted for the first time on record in 2005, mostly because of a drop in the birthrate, raising the prospect of labor shortages and difficulties in paying pensions for large numbers of seniors.

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